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Wednesday, 30 June 1926

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) .- I heartily support the increased duty on rayon, which, in my opinion, is not high enough when compared with the duties imposed on other materials consisting of wool and cotton which are manufactured in Australia. Rayon is very attractive in appearance, it will take any dye, but it has no value as a clothing material. It is manufactured from Scandinavian wood pulp, which is purchased at 2d. per pound.

Senator Abbott - Is it used in the manufacture of ladies' hosiery?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, and its use' in this form is largely responsible for the prevalence of pneumonia amongst womenfolk.

Senator Abbott - It looks very nice.

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, but it is not as good as silk, which has good wear-, ing qualities, and which also provides warmth. It is a vegetable product, a conductor of both heat and cold, and is dangerously inflammable - worse even than flannelette. If a match is lighted anywhere near it, in its raw state, it will go up like gunpowder.

Senator Payne - But the people do not wear it in its raw state.

Senator GUTHRIE - I am aware of that. It is absolutely misleading to call it artificial silk, because it has no relation whatever to silk. As a matter of fact, it is simply a wood pulp " take-down." Because it looks a beautiful fabric women rush into the shops to buy it; but it has no wearing value, and under friction it quickly goes to pieces.

Senator Payne - What nonsense!

Senator GUTHRIE - Even if what I am saying were not correct, we should adhere to our determination to protect the wool industry, which last year was responsible for just on 50 per cent. in value of our total exports.

Senator Payne - This material does not come into competition with our woollen textiles.

Senator GUTHRIE - I am surprised that the honorable senator should say that. Every textile journal and every textile authority in the world is of a different opinion. Statistics dealing with the industry show that last year rayon displaced 500,000 bales of merino wool. In all probability this competition is responsible for the fall in wool values which has taken place to-day. Wool has fallen 50 per cent, in value, and it is now down to such a level that, if our wool-growers are to continue paying the high wages which I think Australians are entitled to, it is doubtful if wool production will be profitable. The demand for this so-called artificial silk has made a multi-millionaire out of a millionaire. Courtaulds Limited, in England, are paying enormous dividends on a capitalization of £20,000,000, and I noticed the other day that in order to hide some of their huge profits they propose to water their stock by increasing the capital of the company to £80,000,000. Honorable senators would be very foolish to agree to any reduction in the duties. The wool industry should have the same protection as other industries.

Senator Payne - But the artificial silk industry is not yet established in Australia.

Senator GUTHRIE - No, but we are establishing woollen mills throughout the Commonwealth, and, unfortunately, under present conditions many of them are not paying dividends. We should support the industry that can utilize our raw products and supply articles for our requirements. Instead of agreeing to the proposed duties, the Senate should increase them.

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